Byrne speaks at Montevallo reception

Alabama’s next leader must be able to bring about government ethics reform, improve education and decrease joblessness, according to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne.

Byrne met with about 15 Montevallo residents, business owners and city officials April 19 during a reception at the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce.

During the reception, Byrne said the top issue facing Alabama is its more than 228,000 unemployed workers, something he said he would work to change.

“The number one issue facing Alabama right now is the 228,000 people without work who want to work,” Byrne said. “I just talked with the (Montevallo) police chief, and he said they have had a hard time keeping up with the burglaries because the economy has been down.

“One of the ways we can get money flowing back into our education system is by getting people back to work,” Byrne said.

The governor candidate also said the state “desperately” needs government ethics and education reform.

“I plan to call a special legislative session the day after inauguration to pass those ethics reform bills,” Byrne said. “That Saturday by noon, we will have them all passed.

“And we don’t need to be pitting K-12 against higher education. We are one big education system,” Byrne added. “You don’t just need education when you are 6 through 18 years old. We talk a lot about education, but not a lot about quality education.”

Byrne called the University of Montevallo a “gem,” and said he frequently recommends the school and the city to people across the state.

“I consider Montevallo to be one of the garden spots of the state of Alabama. It’s great to be here,” he said. “This university is a gem, and I’m not just saying that because I’m here.

“It is going to be a different education budget next year because we are going to lose federal stimulus funds,” Byrne added. “But we have to keep on going.”

Byrne said the Alabama Education Association has made many negative attacks on him, but he plans to “stand tall” against special interests in Montgomery.

“If you make me the governor of this state, I am going to stand on principles,” Byrne said. “I won’t back down.”